You may or may not have heard of HDL and LDL, the yin and yang of heart health. The first, High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), is the healthy form of cholesterol or good cholesterol, and its counterpart, Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the ‘bad cholesterol’, is what causes ‘hypercholesterolemia’. HDL sends excess cholesterol straight to the liver, so that it can’t build up in arterial walls. The latter, however, culminates in atherosclerosis, literally, hardening of the arterial walls. That can lead to a negative cascade of consequences, including, but not limited to, stroke, heart attack, and angina pectoris (chest pain). That’s definitely something you want to stay away from. Let’s take a look at some of the foods you can eat to increase your levels of good cholesterol.
This is pretty straightforward, but losing excess weight is associated with a metabolic shift that increases your HDL levels and cuts your LDL levels. So, essentially, any diet that helps you shed pounds is going to propel your heart health in the right direction.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Increasing your intake of omega-3-fatty-acids can skyrocket your HDL concentration. If you can maintain a weekly diet high in the above mentioned, you can reach substantial effects in as little as 12 weeks. Foods you want to keep on the table are oily fish like mackerel and salmon, as well as walnuts and flaxseeds. For maximum efficacy, aim for oily fish twice a week in your diet.
Stock Up Your Fridge with Fruits
Let’s take a look at this from the other end of the spectrum now. According to the Journal Nutrition Metabolism Cardiovascular Disease, diets high in processed carbohydrates like white bread, white sugar and the like actually cut down your HDL level, just another reason why you should let those foods go. An effective strategy might be transition slowly to complex carbohydrates. Stock up your fridge with fruits instead of cookies and you’ll be well on your way to bringing your HDL levels back up. While on the topic, cut out transfats from your diet. We’re talking about processed foods, or any foods that undergo shortening in their manufacturing process.
Good Oils for Good Cholesterol
Make sure you’re preparing your foods with the right oils. Opt for Olive Oil and Soybean Oil over the alternatives. Even Coconut Oil has its downsides. But these two deal a double-whammy. Not only do they decrease your LDL levels, but they increase your HDL levels as well. That should be all the reason you need to make this vital addition to your shopping list.
Anti-oxidant Foods to Increase Good Cholesterol
Speaking of your shopping list, make sure you keep an eye out for those dark-colored anti-oxidant foods like dark chocolate, beetroot, spinach and berries. We’re all aware of how these foods can knock out free-radicals, thereby saving you from various disorders like stroke, blood pressure and cancer, but I bet you didn’t know they also bump up your HDL levels. Oftentimes, low HDL levels are treated with Vitamin B3 supplements, that’s called Niacin, and here’s the good news, if you’re not too keen on taking pills, just Add more Guava into your diet, it’s loaded with niacin.
The last thing on our list has nothing much to do with diet, but we’d be remiss without acknowledging it as an important means of boosting up your HDL while scrapping your LDL, and that’s physical exercise. It doesn’t even have to be intense cardio. Even so much as sixty minutes of exercise a WEEK can be enough to get your HDL levels up, but most doctors recommend more than that for the plethora of other Health Benefits it confers.
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